Classic & Vintage - Things to look out for when buying C&V
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02-15-10, 07:50 PM
I want to buy a bike on a budget and CL seems to have a lot of good offerings. I'm kind of looking at the $300-$400 range and I'm willing to learn a little and do some DIY to fix it up or just take it down to my LBS.
Forgive me if this is a completely stupid question but what are some good brands/time periods of bikes to buy at that price range? What are some things I should look out for when buying an old bike?
I have no experience but I did just buy a vintage bicycle. I looked through and found one that I fell in love with. The colors, the style, everything about it (including its price tag) seemed to speak to me. It turns out that I may have gotten a steal. Perhaps it's karmic...but whatever the case my inexpert advice is to buy something you can afford and that you enjoy looking at and is the right size and I don't see how you can go wrong :)
With that price range, you have a lot of options. I would suggest looking for something with a 126mm rear spacing (so you can fit it with a 7sp freewheel) and 700c (not 27 inch) tires. Other than that, the sky is the limit. Look for a Reynolds 531 or Tange Prestige or Columbus frame and you are set. Even if it does not have index shifting, you can retrofit it with a 7sp Shimano 600 and stay within your budget.
02-15-10, 08:59 PM
Easy - 80's Japanes bikes are usually a good value. Parts are easy to obtain. Personally, I like panasonics (except sport series, which is low-end).
I do not approach anything french - mainly because parts/tools may be specialized. Japanese components (suntour series are nice) and basic toolset-> good way to start.
02-15-10, 09:08 PM
As someone who just got into this within the last year I can enthusiastically suggest lurking here, watching, reading the archives when you see something that intrigues you, and following CL ads in your area. As the spring comes on look for swap meets, and you might check to see if there are C&Vers from this board who could point you to a good deal locally. I have certainly found people here quick to enable, I mean help. Also check out sites like Classic Rendezvous and Sheldon Brown's site, particularly the articles on Japanese bikes, and all the other resources the internet (and some peoples' obsessions) make available.
By all means, take your time and study up. For $300-400 there are lots of extremely nice bikes vintage steel bikes out there, but you could either pay top-dollar for a good one, or get a great deal on a great one if you are patient and shrewd. If you are impatient and just want to ride, you could also look for something in the $100-150 range while you save/study for your ultimate keeper.
Doubtless some here will suggest you look for Italian bikes or English or American (Trek/Cannondale), but it's hard to beat 80s Japanese makes for value, and $400 should get you a very nice Miyata, Centurion, Lotus, Panasonic, Fuji, etc. from the mid to late 80s when they were at their height.
02-15-10, 09:26 PM
Read on C&V for a while, get a feel for what are the "good bikes" and the "not quite as good bikes". I was excited when I got a 1984 Schwinn World Sport when I first started. Then I found out it was a low-end offering- a nice bike, but "not quite as good" as a lot of others. A couple weeks ago I found an old 1987 Schwinn Prelude at a pawn shop for almost nothing and jumped on it. It isn't that Schwinns are bad bikes, but every model line has its hierarchy. The Prelude has technical aspects that make it better than the World Sport. So find all the old online catalogs you can, and look at the mid-range to top end bikes.
So learn about frames: high tensile (Hi-Ten) tubing is kind of low end. 4130 Chromium Molybdenum (Cro-Mo) is better. "Name brand" tubing like Columbus or Reynolds is better yet. For the drop-outs (where the wheels attach), there are stamped dropouts and forged. Stamped are cut out of flat steel; forged are formed and have more features molded into them and sometimes have adjustment screws in the rears so that the axle always comes to rest in the same spot. Forged is better than stamped. You can see that hierarchy in this Schwinn catalog from 1987 (http://www.trfindley.com/flschwinn_1981_1990/1987_17.html).
Model - Tubing - Dropouts
Circuit - Columbus SL CroMo - Forged dropouts with adjusters
Super Sport - Columbus Tenax CroMo - Forged dropouts with adjusters
Tempo - Columbus Tenax CroMo - Forged dropouts with adjusters
Prelude - Columbus Tenax CroMo - Forged dropouts
LeTour - True Temper T1 4130 CroMo - Forged dropouts
Traveler - True Temper T1 4130 CroMo - Forged dropouts
World Sport - 4130 CroMo - Centeny dropouts (?)
World - Hi-Tensile - (stamped dropouts)
(They also show Madison and Voyageur, but they are outside the hierarchy a bit because the Madison is a track racer and the Voyageur is a touring bike.)
So just by looking at the frames (tubing and dropouts) you can get a sense of what the good bikes are. Name brand tubing is good (and there is usually a decal on the seat tube to brag about it). 4130 is fair. Hi-Ten is low end. Forged Dropouts with Adjusters are good, Forged dropouts without the adjusters are okay, stamped dropouts are low end. You can learn to recognize them just by looking at different types.
We can go on and on about components (derailleurs and stuff), but even without that, you can do a pretty decent job of screening out the junk by looking at tubing and dropouts.
One constant across all lines is that a model with "Sport" in the name is usually very close to the bottom of the barrel. If you look around you can find catalogs for Schwinn (http://www.trfindley.com/pg_schwinn_cats.htm), Centurion (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/centurion1984/index.html), Fuji (http://classicfuji.com/), Raleigh (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/retroraleighs/#catalogues), and many other brands scanned and put online. Familiarize yourself with the middle to top of each product line so you can instantly pick out the winners.
I don't know if it's been mentioned, but obviously look out for things like dents, cracked lugs, and other overall dangerous stuff. Also, if you come across a really dirty, but really good vintage bike, I've found that generally you can talk the seller down in price.
I don't really hunt for C&V deals, but whenever I'm tooling around town or on a ride, I carry a $50 in two 5's, two 10's and a 20 in case I come across a good find. The 5's can also be used to get a ride if I crash and burn out in the middle of nowhere.
02-15-10, 09:55 PM
Your local market or your willingness to travel on a moment's notice without any guarantee that the bike will still be there for what you thought was the asking price and in the condition you were led to believe it was in will all play a huge part in how well you'll do with Craigslist. I do better with thrift shops but sometimes do okay with craigslist.
Spend some time reading the posts in the appraisal sub section which should give you some things to watch for.
What to watch out for? Size first, after that it depends on what you're looking for. Brazeons, derailleur hanger or bolt on plate, downtube or stem or barend shifters, upright or drop handlebars, single speed coaster brake or internally geared rear hub or externally geared (this is the C&V section and quite a few 3-speed riders reside here), 27" or 26" (several 26" non-interchangable wheel sizes) or 650* (enter a letter choice for the *) or 700c wheels/tires, SunTour or Shimano or Campagnolo or Huret or other component groups, various grades and mixes of frame materials, brand and heritage, all are factors that can enter into search parameters.
How do you see yourself using it, that is often a good starting place to begin a search.
I hope this helped a little.
02-15-10, 09:58 PM
In addition to the other recommendations here, make sure whatever you buy fits you; if it doesn't you won't ride it.
Also, if you find a bike you're considering purchasing, make sure neither the seatpost nor stem are stuck.
02-15-10, 11:33 PM
BUY THE RIGHT:
SIZE - a must
TYPE - Trail, Road bike, Hybrid, Crusier, etc.
EXCELLENT CONDITION - FOR THE MONEY YOU ARE SPENDING YOU CAN FIND A QUALITY BIKE IN EXCELLENT SHAPE INCLUDING PAINT/COMPONENTS.
BETTER MODELS ~ MID TO UPPER LEVEL BIKE OF A BRAND (YOU WILL GET THE BETTER FRAMES AND COMPONENTS) Means you gotta study brands.
Learn about tires. An old bike with old sew up tires and rims is cool but is going to slow you down so look for tubulers with clincher rims. 700c is newer and will give you lots of more choices on tire colors, tread types etc.
Brands I suggest in that price range:
Miyata ~ http://www.miyatacatalogs.com/
Components: A fantastic site to learn about components is this one: http://velobase.com/ I find using it by brand directory is easiest for me.
Another great site is: http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/index.html
Campagnolo ~ http://www.campyonly.com/history/campy_timeline.html
Dia Compe Universal
Below is a link to my bikes on my Flickr page. Take a look at some of them and the sets I have made on components etc. While not great, it helps. I have learned so much by looking at other peoples web pages. Good luck on your hunt! Mostly...you will just learn from experience. Trial and error...but it is fun.
02-15-10, 11:44 PM
Bit of a stretch but here's my local craigslist http://sfbay.craigslist.org/bik/
Peninsula would be the best area for me. I'm 5'10 and I guess I'm pretty average for my height with no abnormally long or short legs. What frame sizes should I look at? Are there any specific bikes that you guys would recommend sizing up or down from?
"Does the stem and seatpost come off the bike??" if the owner says "yes", your doing OK for a start!:thumb:
02-15-10, 11:57 PM
I am 5'10 with shorter legs and longer torso. (I call it the Fred Flintson look) I personally always ask for the "standover measurement" if it is not listed. (measurement from ground to top of top tube) 30 1/2" to 32" inches is fine for me. Standard rule: You want the top tube bar to be 1/2" to 1" below your privates when you are standing flat footed. I can use a bike from 54 to 58 cm frame. 56 is probably my size.
A lot of people will also suggest going in and getting fitted to a bike. The top tube length, how tall the bike is, your peddle stroke with your legs, etc are important. Just ride the bike and see if it fits you. You will know if it is too tall or too short. The reason you DO NOT want a tall bike is if you have to stop suddenly you DO NOT WANT TO INJURE YOUR "STUFF".
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